Articles for Teachers
(In response to a post in the forum called "Love + United Effort = The True Lingua of Progress" by The Arrogant One)
Perhaps the degree that we develop the ability to speak in another language depends on motivation and how much it is needed for daily survival. If there is absolutely no choice, then people will do it to the best of their ability. But it is actually very tiring to speak in a second language, and stressful too. Until a certain facility or level is reached, it may be that students need a rest and chance to speak their first language.
I think language acquisition is rather a long process. If we think of immigrants to North America, we can see that the first generation often never became fluent. In fact, since language is so much more easily learned by children, it is probably the generation born in a country or who move there in childhood that have the best chance to become truly fluent and comfortable speakers. This is not to say that some talented and diligent people will not become relatively fluent after awhile. But it requires a good deal of effort and perhaps even a long time to achieve this. If we think of learning our first language, we can realize that even 10 year olds haven't achieved a good level of spoken or written language. Probably they will achieve this after 15 or 20 years or even more. So if we are thinking of short term visiting students, or new immigrants, then we can see that they are nowhere nearly able to communicate at their true age levels in the second language. The students realize this and perhaps since they are also socializing, their goals may be to have good communication, and make friends, rather than exclusively to practice English.
This is an issue that interests me as a teacher living in Japan, and as a language learner myself. I use Japanese for everyday business, shopping and basic communication at my office, but I have to confess that in my free time, I often would like to relax and speak English so that I can communicate at a level that my Japanese can not yet reach. There is also the issue of "losing" English if it is not practiced, a thing which I can't afford to do as I have to teach it. Perhaps when thinking of motivation, the desire to communicate with other humans supersedes the desire to speak in any one language.